bullets on wooden table

How Long Does Ammo Last?

Do you have a box of bullets sitting around and you're not sure if they're still good to use? If yes, we have all the answers you need. In this blog, we'll talk about the shelf life of ammo, factors that can make it go bad, and ways to store it for long life. Let's get started!

What Is Ammo?


man placing bullets in case
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First, let's start with the basics. Ammo, also known as ammunition, refers to the material used in guns or firearms, which is fired, scattered, or dropped upon activation. It includes various types, such as concealed carry firearm bullets, shotgun shells, and rifle rounds. It essentially serves as the fuel for firearms, transforming them from mere pieces of metal into functional and powerful tools.

How Long Does Ammo Last?


bullets lined up
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Ammo can last a very long time when stored properly. Many experts say that modern ammunition can last up to 50 years and sometimes even longer. Some folks have even reported using ammo that's over a century old without any problems. So, if you're worried about your ammo going bad in a few years, rest easy. It will likely outlive that worry!

Factors That Affect Ammo Shelf Life


man loading gun
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Several factors can impact the lifespan of ammunition, including:

1) Storage Conditions

Proper storage is paramount. Modern ammo should be kept in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, moisture, and extreme temperatures. High humidity can lead to corrosion, while excessive heat can degrade the propellant.

2) Ammunition Type

The type of ammunition you're using can also influence its shelf life. For instance, rimfire cartridges, commonly used in .22 LR firearms, have a shorter shelf life compared to centerfire cartridges used in most handguns and rifles.

3) Quality of Manufacturing

The quality of ammo manufacturing plays a big role in how long it will last. High-quality ammo made with good materials will generally last longer than cheaper, low-quality ammo.

 The manufacturing process also matters. Ammo made with modern, precise methods will typically be more reliable and durable than ammo made with outdated techniques.

4) Packaging Quality

Lastly, the quality of the ammunition packaging can impact its longevity. Ammunition stored in sealed, airtight ammunition storage containers or military-grade ammo cans is better protected from external elements and will generally last longer.

Signs of Ammo Degradation


bullets scattered
Credit: Envato Elements/ EdVal

As a gun owner, it is crucial to be vigilant about the condition of your ammunition to ensure reliable and safe performance. Ammunition degradation can occur over time, affecting its effectiveness and potentially compromising firearm safety. Here are some signs of ammo degradation:

1) Corrosion

One of the most evident signs of ammo degradation is the presence of rust or corrosion on the cartridge case or bullet. Corrosive ammunition contains primers that leave behind residue when ignited. Over time, this residue can attack the metal components of the cartridge, leading to the weakening of the structural integrity of the casing.

2) Discoloration and Stains

With time, exposure to heat or humidity can cause discoloration or stains on your ammo. While mild discoloration might not affect performance, severe staining or any change in color is a bad sign. It could mean that the powder is breaking down and the ammo might not fire correctly.

3) Loose Bullets or Primers

A bullet that wiggles in its casing or a primer that seems loose or out of place is a clear sign of degradation. These components should be tightly fitted; any looseness could lead to misfires.

4) Foul Smell

If your ammo has a strong, bad smell, that's a bad sign. Ammo should have no smell or a slight metallic smell. A strong, sour, or chemical smell could mean the powder is breaking down.

Tips to Extend the Shelf Life of Your Ammo


bullets scattered
Credit: Envato Elements/ FabrikaPhoto

Extending the shelf life of your ammo is all about controlling the factors we've previously discussed. Here are some practical tips that can help you keep your ammo in top shape for longer:

1) Invest in Quality Storage Containers

As discussed, ammo storage equipment plays a big role in the longevity of your ammo. Invest in a high-quality, durable ammo box or airtight container that has a tight seal. These containers protect your ammo from moisture, dirt, and rapid changes in temperature, all of which can degrade ammo over time.

2) Store Ammo in a Controlled Environment

Avoid storing ammunition in areas like the basement or garage. Instead, ammo should be stored in a cool, dry place where the temperature and humidity levels remain stable. A closet inside your home is often a good choice.

3) Keep Ammo in the Original Packaging

Try to keep your ammo in its original packaging until you're ready to use it. The packaging is designed to protect it from environmental damage. Once you open it, the ammo becomes more susceptible to degradation.

4) Avoid Unnecessary Handling

Each time you handle your ammo, you risk exposing it to moisture and oils from your skin, which can accelerate corrosion. Only handle your ammo when necessary, and make sure your hands are clean and dry when you do.


In conclusion, both modern and old ammunition have the potential to remain viable for an extended period if they are stored correctly. That's good news for gun owners everywhere. So, take care of your ammo, and it'll take care of you!

And speaking of responsible gun ownership, there's no better way to put your ammunition to good use than with EasyShot Shooting Targets! Crafted with high-quality materials, these targets are designed to withstand various calibers and ensure maximum durability. Shop with us today.

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